Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 2, 1896
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinArchie McMurphy (father), 151 Canora Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingTinsmith
Service Details
Regimental Number71502
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion27th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment151 Canora Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentOctober 27, 1914
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 8, 1968
Age at Death71
Buried AtWoodlawn Cemetery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

McMurphy, Lionel Dougald

Private Lionel Dougald McMurphy enlisted in October 1914 and served overseas for four years, most of that time with the 27th Battalion. He was wounded twice but he survived the war and returned home in May 1919.

Lionel was the son of Dougald McMurphy and Olivia Jane Welsh. His parents were both born in Ontario, Dougald in Middlesex County and Olivia in St. Catharine’s, Lincoln County. Olivia also went by the names Olivia Maud and Eva Maud. Dougald was born in 1872 and he and his family moved to Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario, when he was about eight years old. His father served as a constable on the Rat Portage police force. Dougald was a merchant and he married Olivia in January 1894 in Winnipeg. They had three children, all born in Rat Portage: Eileen (1894), Lionel (2 July 1896) and Nettie Jean (1897).

Sadly Dougald died of tuberculosis on 28 June 1903, when Lionel was seven years old. He’s buried in the McMurphy family plot at Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. By 1910 Olivia was married to Dougald’s older brother, Archibald Duncan McMurphy, and they were living in Winnipeg. They had a daughter, Doris Bernice, born in Winnipeg in 1910. She was followed by a son, John, about two years later. Archibald had a long career with the Canadian Pacific Railway, starting as a brakeman in Kenora in 1886. When he retired on 31 December 1934, after 48 years of service, he was the oldest conductor working for the company.

The war started in August 1914 and Lionel was one of the early volunteers, signing up with the second contingent on 27 October. His occupation was tinsmith and he was living at home at 151 Canora Street. He said he had served in a local militia unit, the 90th Winnipeg Rifles, and he joined the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. After training over the winter the unit headed to the east coast in the spring, passing through Kenora on 13 May 1915. A huge crowd gathered at the train station to wish them well and see them on their way. The battalion embarked from Quebec on 17 May on the SS Carpathia and the men spent several months training in England. On 17 September they marched to Folkestone where they boarded the Marguerite. They disembarked at Boulogne, France on 18 September and four days later the battalion was in Belgium.

On or around 19 October, during a rotation in the front line, Lionel suffered a wound to his head, right arm and left foot. He was taken to No. 6 Field Ambulance where he recuperated for a week. In November he was ill for about two weeks with pharyngitis and gastritis and he rejoined his unit near the end of the month. The Canadians spent the winter of 1915-16 in Belgium, holding a section of the front line between Ploegsteert Wood and St. Eloi. In 1916 they were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in June and the Somme Offensive that fall. In December Lionel had ten days leave and he rejoined his unit at the end of the month.

Following the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 the Canadians stayed in the area south of Lens, holding the new front line. Lionel became ill with trench fever and he was admitted to No. 14 General Hospital in Wimereux on 1 June. A few days later he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship St. Andrew and taken to the Bangour War Hospital in Scotland. On 10 July he was transferred to Woodcote Park convalescent centre then discharged to duty a week later. After just ten days, however, he was back in the hospital, still suffering from trench fever. This time he recovered for three months in a hospital in Devonport and at the convalescent centre in Epsom.

On 19 October Lionel was posted to the Manitoba Regiment Depot and on 2 January 1918 he was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion. Three months later he was sent back to France and he rejoined the 27th Battalion in the field in mid-May. On 3 June his unit moved into the front line. Lionel was one of the casualties the following day when he was buried by the explosion of an artillery shell and wounded in the back. He spent the rest of June recovering at No. 5 Field Ambulance and he returned to his unit at the end of the month. In August he was ill with gastritis and enteritis and it was late September when he rejoined the 27th Battalion for what would be the final weeks of the war.

After the Armistice the 27th Battalion took part in the March to the Rhine and stayed in Germany for several weeks as part of the occupying forces. The unit returned to Belgium in early January 1919 and on 21 February Lionel was sent to England to attend Khaki University. He embarked for Canada on 14 May on the SS Bohemia, arriving in Halifax ten days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 30 May in Winnipeg.

After the war Lionel moved to Foam Lake, Saskatchewan where he worked as a steam engineer. Sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s he married Kathleen Winifred Watson. Kathleen was born in 1900 in Holmfield, Manitoba and moved to Saskatchewan with her family as a child. Her parents, Edward Watson and Catherine Gibson, had immigrated from England and Scotland and they had at least eleven children. Kathleen became a teacher and taught in several small towns in Saskatchewan before marrying.

Lionel and Kathleen had one daughter, Shirley. Around 1936 they moved to Saskatoon where Lionel was employed by the department of public works. Sadly, Kathleen passed away in the General Hospital in Winnipeg in January 1947, at age 46. Her funeral was held in Wishart, Saskatchewan and she’s buried in the Watson family plot at Stone Church Cemetery in Wishart. Also buried there are her parents and some of her brothers and sisters.

Lionel and Kathleen’s daughter Shirley married Orest Ciona in 1950 and they made their home in Saskatoon. Lionel was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 63, in Saskatoon. During the Second World War his brother John served in the Canadian army. Lionel retired in 1960 and passed away on 8 April 1968, at age 71. His funeral was held two days later and he’s buried in the Soldier’s Field at Woodlawn Cemetery. His stepfather (uncle) Archibald had died in 1941 and his mother in 1952. They are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora along with Lionel’s grandparents and other relatives.

By Becky Johnson

Photos of Lionel with the 27th Battalion are from the commemorative book of the 27th Battalion, Military District No. 10, 1915.

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